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Kilauea Iki, meaning little Kilauea, is the still seething remnant of a quite recent (1959), spectacular eruption that filled the crater with a molten lake of lava and threw fire fountains as much as 1900 feet in the air. For a sense of scale, the worlds tallest building, the Taipei 101 which is 101 stories tall and 1667 feet high, would be dwarfed by these fire fountains.

Distances across the crater are hard to guess, as steam jets up from small cracks in the now-hardened lava-lakes surface and the minute specks of hikers cross its black expanse, but the crater today is more than a mile long, 3000 feet across and almost 400 feet from the rim to the surface. At its peak, the volcano spewed about two million tons of lava per hour; however, between spurts, much of this liquid drained back into the subterranean plumbing of the caldera, thus giving the distinctive ring-around-the-crater look to Kilauea Iki.

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Along the sea cliffs that surround the Island of Hawai’i, arches and sea stacks are formed where wild waves and tides exploit minute differences in the hardness of various layers of lava flow and airfall material, making strange, gravity-defying natural sculptures. Although common, there are few places where these arches and stacks are easily viewable–one such place is the Holei Sea Arch, which is currently directly seaward of the end of the Chain of Craters Road.

At Holei Sea Arch the cliffs are 80 to 90 feet high, but many waves still spray and wash over them, so use caution when approaching and photographing the arch. Notice along the lower cliffs in the area toward the eruption viewing platform, the several large boulders which have been dropped by giant, angry waves crashing over the sea cliffs. Imagine the power of a wave that would have enough force to deposit a several-ton boulder on a cliff 30 feet about the surface of the ocean.

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Produced by Donnie MacGowan; videography by Donnie MacGowan and Frank Burgess; narrated by Frank Burgess; original music written and performed by Donnie MacGowan.